Hughes dominates Sox in 12-3 victory

I hope to write the same headline again later this week.

The offense might seem the focal point in a 12-3 win, and the Yanks’ hitters certainly put on a display. The story, though, was Phil Hughes and his continued dominance of the American League. He threw 99 pitches in seven innings, and might have come out for the eighth if not for a 10-batter, five-run bottom of the seventh. Everything looked good, from his strikeouts to his lack of walks, and especially to his lack of hits allowed. I can’t wait to see him face the Red Sox this weekend.

Biggest Hit: Cano ices it

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

From the couch, this game felt pretty well in control from the beginning. The Yanks put together a run in the second, and then nearly struck it big in the third. With the bases loaded and two outs Mark Buehrle threw a changeup that caught a bit too much of the plate. Jorge Posada hit it on a line, but right to Juan Pierre. Still, it seemed like they were on the brink of getting to Buehrle.

They confirmed that in the fifth inning. For the second time in the game Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher hit back-to-back singles to set up Robinson Cano. While Buehrle pitched around him the first time, he went at him with fastballs in the fifth. Cano fouled off the first and swung through the second, putting himself in an 0-2 hole. The next pitch, a changeup, was in a good location, low and away, but Cano adjusted and got his bat head on the ball. About a second later it collided with the right field stands, and the Yankees took a 5-0 lead.

With his 2 for 4 day Cano improves his triple slash to .387/.433/.763. He came into the day trailing Justin Morneau, who went 2 for 6 with two doubles, in wOBA. Will the homer and the walk make up the difference? We’ll see in the morning.

Honorable Mention: Gardner’s no doubter

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Coming into the game Brett Gardner had seen 4.17 pitches per plate appearances, third in the AL. (Curtis Granderson was fourth. Never would have guessed.) He saw only two during his first at-bat, but he made them count. The second time up, though, Gardner worked up his average. Buehrle worked him mostly away, mixing his four-seamer and cutter. Gardner didn’t deign to swing, and five pitches later the count was full.

Buehrle tried to blow an 86 mph fastball by Gardner, but he squared up the high pitch and absolutely crushed it over the right field wall. It ended up in the first row of the bleachers, so it wasn’t some cheapie. That’s not Gardner’s game, of course. His game is more like what he did in the first. Still, the Yanks will take it any time. He’s really taken to his starting role so far, hitting .342/.410/.438 in 83 PA.

Biggest Pitch: Kotsay’s leadoff single

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

The sign of a truly dominant start: the hit that made the biggest dent in the WPA is a hit to lead off the game. That raised Chicago’s chances of winning by 3.4 percent. Seriously. That’s as big a dent they made in the game. Hughes completely shut them down, and then the Yankees’ offense pounced. The White Sox had a couple of similar positive WPA swings in the third and fourth innings, but they were more of the same. Hughes quickly rendered them moot.

While his four-seamer remains his weapon of choice, Hughes threw 22 cutters yesterday, generating five swings and misses. He also threw it for a strike 18 times, quite the ratio. He worked in a good number of changeups, including one on a strikeout of Mark Teahen in the fourth. (Note: pitch f/x classified it a fastball for some reason.) Everything seems to be in place for Hughes. Again, he’ll get his biggest test to date over the weekend.

Slump busting

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Both Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira have started the season slow, hitting under .200 for the first month. While Johnson’s struggles continue, he did double during the five-run seventh. He’s still hitting .141, but with Curtis Granderson’s bat out of the lineup it’s doubtful that Girardi platoons him with Thames. Maybe he’ll get back into a groove this week.

Mark Teixeira presents the more exciting case. He entered the series hitting .139/.292/.266, but after going 6 for 11 with a double he raised that to .188/.336/.311. He broke out of his slump around this time last year. He’ll get a chance to feast on some Orioles pitching to keep it going.


Gardner’s homer. That thing was just a shot. Not what we expect from him at all.

Robinson Cano. Because damn, he just keeps hitting.

Phil Hughes. It’s like picking a winner in the Derby.

Seeing Mark Melancon get into a game. Even if he did give up the Konerko homer, I’d still like to see more of him while he’s up. Though that might not be for much longer.


None to register. This game was an absolute joy.

WPA Graph

Behold, my latest invention!

Next Up

The Orioles just swept the Red Sox, and now they’re headed up to New York to face the Yankees for three games. The Yanks will send their best to the mound, while the O’s will send…Jeremy Guthrie. Body armor up.

Previewing the Sox with Fenway West

For those of who idling away your last hours of Sunday evening, mosey on over to Fenway West for a podcast appearance by yours truly. I’ll be on the Talking Sox Show with Matt O’Donnell and Craig Leger, and we’ll be previewing next weekend’s highly-anticipated Fenway showdown between the Yankees and the Red Sox and discussing Tampa Bay’s hot start. You can listen live right here starting at 10 p.m., and I’ll be on at 10:15 for approximately 15 minutes.

Open Thread: Another series, another win

"See what happens when you swing?" (Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP)

I needed a game like that after yesterday’s frustrationfest – just pound their brains in. No mercy. The Yankees have now played eight series so far this year, and they’ve lost only one of them: last weekend’s set in Anaheim. Keep winning series, and everything will sort itself out in the end. Tampa Bay has to slump eventually, right? Right?!?

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Mets and Phillies (Johan Santana vs. Jamie Moyer) are your ESPN Sunday Night Game, plus you’ve also got the Red Wings and Sharks in NHL playoff action. You know the routine, so have at it.

Hirsh strong again in Scranton win

Tim Norton joined his third team in two days today. Yesterday he was sent from Tampa to Staten Island to make room for Andrew Brackman (paper move), and today he was sent from Staten Island to Scranton to take Mark Melancon‘s place.

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Norfolk)
Kevin Russo, 3B: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 CS – 16 for his last 40 (.400)
Reegie Corona, 2B: 1 for 2, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 SB – brings that OPS up over .500
Eduardo Nunez, SS, David Winfree, RF & Greg Golson, CF: all 0 for 4 – Nunez scored a run, committed a fielding error & K’ed … Winfree drove in a run & K’ed
Juan Miranda, 1B, Jesus Montero, C & Chad Huffman, LF: all 0 for 3, 1 BB – Miranda drove in a run, scored another & K’ed … Montero K’ed & is just 5 for his last 35 (.143) … Huffman K’ed twice
Jon Weber, DH: 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K
Jason Hirsh: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 7-8 GB/FB – 54 of 94 pitches were strikes (57.5%) … two hits allowed over his last 14.2 IP
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 11 of 12 pitches were strikes
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB – 8 of his 13 pitches were strikes (61.5%)

[Read more…]

Mid-game injury update: A-Rod’s knee, Granderson

While the Yankees and White Sox are playing the rubber match of their three-game set, Joel Sherman has an update on the various injured Yankees. A-Rod, he says, is out of the lineup with “pain behind the right knee.” According to The Post scribe, this pain forced Joe Girardi to pinch run for A-Rod yesterday in the 9th, but the Yankees do not consider the injury serious. Look for A-Rod to return to the lineup on Monday against the Orioles. I wonder if this pain has been impacting A-Rod’s ability to drive off his back leg while at bat.

On the Curtis Granderson front, the Yanks were “more upbeat about Curtis Granderson’s MRI results than they anticipated being” and hope that the center fielder could return in three weeks. Since Curtis’ ability is tied in with his speed, though, the Yanks will hold him back until he’s fully healthy. While Mark Melancon got the call today, the team is planning to activate one-time first-round draft pick Greg Golson once the bullpen is more rested than it has been lately.

Game 24: A win for the series

Despite yesterday’s hair-pulling affair, the Yanks have a shot to once again take a series and keep their winning percentage at .667. They’ll have to fend off the White Sox, against whom they’ve trailed the majority of the innings played this weekend. It comes against the lefty Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle has been the White Sox nominal ace for a few seasons now, though he certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the power-stuff ace. He’s more of a finesse guy, hitting corners and inducing weak contact. Yet he’s struggled a bit this season. He threw a gem against Cleveland on Opening day, but since then has allowed 17 runs in 25.2 innings, including six in six innings against those very Indians.

Last year Buehrle turned in a fine season, highlighted by his perfect game against the Rays on July 23. That brought his ERA down to 3.28, and it wouldn’t get to that point again. He surrendered five runs to Minnesota in his next game, and then allowed seven runs in just 4.1 innings against the Yanks the start after that. It seemed the team had a plan against him, shooting the ball into the hole between third and short and racking up 12 base hits before Buehrle left. They got him later that month, and despite eight hits and two walks in six innings, they scored only on two solo home runs.

Phil Hughes has looked every bit the young phenom through his first three starts. Even though he didn’t have his best stuff in his last appearance, he still managed to hold down the O’s, allowing just one run over 5.2 innings. The bullpen promptly blew it, something we’ve seen from them more than once lately. He still needs to cut down on the walks, but other than that Hughes has been nothing short of marvelous so far. His next assignment will come against the Red Sox.


Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson 1B
Mark Teixeira DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames LF – gulp
Brett Gardner CF
Ramiro Peña 3B

And on the mound, number 65, Phil Hughes, number 65.

In search of an outfielder

While the Yankees currently feature a 13-man pitching staff, that won’t last for long. They’ve found a 12-man pitching staff a bit much at times, and if Vazquez’s turn gets skipped this week then Mitre might not get into another game for 10 or so days. Adding Melancon might help the Yankees with a fresh arm this afternoon, but it won’t go far in solving the team’s roster problems.

Baseball Prospectus’s injury guy Will Caroll forecasts a two to four week absence for Curtis Granderson, which doesn’t seem bad for a groin injury. Since it’s a lower body injury I’ll assume the longer estimate, so the Yankees will likely be without Granderson until June. The solution, for now, is a combination of Randy Winn and Marcus Thames in LF while Brett Gardner slides over to CF. I’m not sure those two present the best possible option, even in a temporary substitution scenario.

When Thames starts Winn will likely sub for defense later in the game. Nick Johnson will also DH, so there’s no real issue here. While Thames’s weaknesses are exposed much more against lefties I’m sure the Yankees would like to pinch hit for him later in the game if possible. Problem is, there’s no one to do that at this point. I doubt they’d pinch hit Winn, unless he starts to show something with the bat.

When Winn starts, the real troubles arise. Again, there’s no one on the bench to pinch hit for him except Thames, and that only works against lefties. Even then, the only other outfielder on the bench is also Thames, so that makes the team much weaker defensively. True, if they’re pinch-hitting for Winn then they need the offense more, but as we saw yesterday, little is more frustrating than taking the lead late in a game and then losing it. It will be triply frustrating if Thames’s bat puts them ahead and then his glove costs them the lead.

This makes me wonder if they’ll go with someone like Chad Huffman, who flashed some power at AA and AAA in the past two seasons, or Greg Golson, who is around for his defense more than his offense. Golson has flashed some power in his first month in the International League, and is on the 40-man roster. So is Huffman, so I think we’ll see one of the two headed up in the next few days. Do they go with the bat, or do they go with the speed?